Friday, August 17, 2012


The great races, triumphs, losses, medal winning scenes, opening and closing ceremonies helped make the Olympic Games in London so watchable. The BBC images were fantastic.

But I was determined to do a lot of listening, too, to the commentaries from the various venues and the more I did that, the more I was struck by their knowledge, understanding, insight, passion – and compassion. Particularly, in sports I barely watch such as basketball, show jumping, cycling, volleyball, gymnastics and table tennis where the commentary teams, whose names I don’t know, proved to be everything the so-called “experts” from my usual diet of televised football aren’t. That is to say, they were informative, interesting, amusing, genuinely involved and concerned for what was going on. They told me, unlike the puerile football pundits of this world, things I didn’t know, not repeating those actions I could see for myself.

Clearly, these unsung talents plan in depth for what they have to do, what they need to convey. Certainly, some carry the expertise from participating in certain sports so their observations and points of view have well-honed gravitas. But many will have done their homework and research, and it was evident.

In mainline sports such as tennis, John McEnroe deserves similar praise whereas the flagship football shows such as Match of the Day on BBC do not as this is a programme filled with asinine twaddle from a bunch of conceited dullards. (My views on the lamentable Lawrenson and shoddy Shearer are no secret. These two are among the worst.)

Equally, in PR terms, the best practitioners carry out proper research before going into a pitch or before offering advice of any kind to potential clients. The groundwork is vital. The homework essential. The concerted effort to stack up knowledge and relevant information that underpins any strategies is crucial. We study so we know what we are talking about. If we know hee-haw about jam making or re-usable food containers, then we find out what we can, and consult experts.

How else can a consultant or adviser operate properly? Minus a rock solid base of relevant information, we have empty words. How can one talk with any authority and hope to be as helpful as possible if the basic background preparations have been skimmed over or ignored? But, thankfully, most PRs I know are faultless in this regard, and I wouldn’t have expected anything else.

Clients entrust PR outfits with a great deal and pay for a good service to boot. That’s why research and analysis in the first instance pay dividends – it means a PR can go into any situation buoyed by information that can assist clients while not giving themselves, the PR that is, a showing up through a dismal lack of preparation.

Like the excellent commentators during the Olympics any success relies on the spadework at the beginning. Talk is cheap – real meaning needs a bit of effort.

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